N.H. Poised To Abolish Death Penalty After Senate Vote

Apr 11, 2019

Opponents of the death penalty greeted lawmakers Thursday morning outside the N.H. State House.
Credit Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The New Hampshire Senate has voted 17 to 6 to pass a bill to repeal the death penalty.

The vote Thursday follows the House voting 279 to 88 -- also reaching a veto-proof majority -- in support of abolishing capital murder.

Gov. Chris Sununu has promised to veto the bill. He vetoed a similar bill last year.

If the vote margins hold, the House and Senate have the votes to override a veto.

New Hampshire has not executed anyone since 1939.

There is one person on death row in the state: Michael K. Addison, who was convicted for killing Manchester Police Officer Michael L. Briggs in 2006. Laura Briggs, his widow, testified last month against the bill. She said, "It's not about an eye for an eye or revenge ... it's about protecting our society from evil people that do evil things."

The bill would change the penalty to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. As drafted, the repeal of New Hampshire's death penalty would not apply to Addison.

Prior to the vote, Democratic Sen. Martha Hennessy urged her colleagues to keep their resolve. "It is time to abolish the death penalty in New Hampshire—now," she said.

(This post was updated Thursday with additional reporting.)